If you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer you will probably see a number of different health professionals at different points in your care. They will help diagnose and treat your prostate cancer and help you with the physical and emotional side effects. Who you see will depend on the treatment you are having and how they do things at your hospital – as each hospital does things differently.
What is my GP’s role?
Your GP will refer you to the hospital and hand over your care to the team there. But your GP will be updated with your test results and treatment. And you may continue to see your GP regularly for prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests if you go on active surveillance or watchful waiting. Or for hormone injections if you have hormone therapy. You should also continue to see your GP about any other health problems, and speak to them about any concerns.
If you have side effects from treatment, your GP can treat these or refer you to a specialist to help. You will need regular follow-ups to check how well your treatment has worked and that your cancer hasn’t come back. Depending on your situation and the services in your area, you may have these with your GP. If there are signs your cancer may come back, your GP can refer you to the hospital.
What is a multi-disciplinary team (MDT)?
The multi-disciplinary team (MDT) is the group of health professionals at the hospital involved in your care. Members of your MDT will do tests to confirm you have prostate cancer and talk you through your treatment options and any relevant clinical trials. They will then treat your prostate cancer and check how well your treatment has worked at follow up appointments.
You may not meet everyone in your MDT and you may only meet some members when you start treatment. But everyone in your MDT will meet regularly to make sure they all know how you’re doing. They will also meet with any other doctors you see who are not part of the MDT.
Who is in my multi-disciplinary team?
Each hospital does things differently but your MDT will probably include some or all of the following people:
- a specialist nurse
- a urologist
- an oncologist
- a radiologist
- a diagnostic radiographer
- a therapeutic radiographer
- a pathologist.
Some MDTs may be larger than this and include people such as counsellors.
Most MDTs will include a specialist nurse or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). They specialise in caring for men with prostate cancer and are usually the member of the MDT you’ll have most contact with. They’ll support you, answer questions and – in some hospitals – do biopsies and help with treatment. You can also talk to our Specialist Nurses, in confidence, about any questions or concerns you have.
A urologist is a surgeon who specialises in treating problems with the urinary and reproductive systems, which includes the prostate. They can carry out biopsies to help diagnose your prostate cancer, and do the following treatments:
An oncologist specialises in treating cancer using treatments other than surgery, including:
A radiologist specialises in understanding medical scans and images, such as MRI, to diagnose prostate cancer. They will look at the scans and images taken by the diagnostic radiographer and explain these to the rest of your MDT. They can sometimes help deliver brachytherapy.
A diagnostic radiographer specialises in taking images of the body. They will do any scans you need during your diagnosis and care and send these to your radiologist. These may include X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, CT (computerised tomography) scans and bone scans.
Also called radiotherapy radiographers. They specialise in giving radiotherapy to treat cancer. They may work with the oncologist to give external beam radiotherapy or brachytherapy. Some radiographers may also give you check-ups to see if your treatment works and check on your side effects.
A pathologist specialises in looking at cells under a microscope. They will look at your biopsy samples to see if there are cancer cells present and grade these using the Gleason grade. You won’t meet the pathologist, but they will explain your biopsy results to the rest of your MDT.
What is a key worker?
Your key worker is the person in your MDT who is in charge of co-ordinating your care – this is usually the specialist nurse. They are your main contact and will talk to you about your views and make sure the rest of the MDT understand these. They can direct you to information and support, answer your questions or guide you to the right person if you want to talk about specific treatments.
Who else might be involved in my care?
Although your MDT will oversee your care, you may see other health professionals too. This will depend on your own needs and the health services in your area.